Different Cultures. Same Desires.

“We just wanna be loved.” – Ben Rector

2 summers ago, I was able to participate in a mission trip to Costa Rica. While I was expecting to see numerous cultural differences there, I was shocked to see a vast amount of similarities. In Belize this reality is no different. You can find American novelties like Coke bottles,  Golden State Warriors Hats, and Justin Bieber music across Belizean markets. These similarities are perplexing, yet this concept is similar amongst children in the cultures I’ve visited as well.

What I’ve learned is that no matter what culture you are a part of, people just want to enjoy life and be loved. It’s incredible how it seems that the entire world knows how to play hot potato, duck duck goose, and tag (or “catch” as the Belizeans call it). All over the world children are energetic and simply want to have fun. Yet most importantly, in the areas I’ve visited, all people just simply want to be loved. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were swarmed with a sea of students asking to be hugged. Throughout the day students relentlessly asked to be picked up and I eventually had to reject some students as I was way too sore. What a wonderful God that creates us all with a desire to be loved and to enjoy life. I pray this week that I can show these students that God is the greatest example of love and that He creates life to be be enjoyed.

James O’Boyle

 

 

 

 

A Sense of Home

I’ve been in Belize for a day and I’m already amazed at all of the culture that is here. Today, we visited a Mayan temple ruin and it was absolutely breathtaking. We learned so much about these ancient people and their way of life. This is the first time that I have left the United States and as someone who wants to travel, it makes me excited to see more of the world as I grow older. Along with all of the new experiences in new places, I still feel a sense of home in Belize. I feel like I was expecting a completely different environment from the United States. There are houses, streets, markets, vehicles, animals, and many things that I regularly see at home. It makes me realize that while I’m in a different part of the world, this is still God’s earth and it is beautiful. It is another reminder to me that God is in control of my life and that He is providing no matter where I am at.

 

Wes Powers

Take Off

As I write this short post, my eyes are struggling to stay open; it has been an adventure-packed day. We left for Belize at 3 am this morning, excited and anxious about the week ahead. I was nervous, because I had never flown before. Besides the fact that there was a pocket knife in my carry-on that I was unaware of, that we had to sprint through the Atlanta airport in order to make our flight for Belize City, and that I got a little sick due to turbulence. My first experience flying was enjoyable, because I saw God’s incredible handiwork through a little airplane window. 
We have already met some incredible people here, and I cannot wait to see how “God shows up and shows out” over the next few days; he consistently amazes me.                                                           

Britany Cotton

Friends and Families – 

I’ll take a view pictures of our team this morning once they wake up, but I wanted to give you a window into where we’re staying and what it looks like – 

Here are some views from our hotel this morning and some shots of what rooms look like here:

Andrew T. Bolger



Britany Cotton

Get a Taste of That

Do you covet honor? You will never get it by serving yourself. Do you covet distinction? You will get it only as the servant of mankind. Do not forget, then, as you walk these classic places, why you are here. You are not here merely to prepare to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

-President Woodrow Wilson at Swarthmore College, October 25, 1913

 This quote has been prevalent for me the past couple days as I ponder things such as purpose and mission; it’s the ‘why’ that my thoughts center around. Why am I attending College of the Ozarks? Why was I selected to travel to Belize? Why does God show me grace? Why am I here at all?

People talk of God’s will for our lives as a mysterious, abstract idea that only the super-spiritual can access. Only through constant, rigorous Bible studies, meditative prayer, and a perfect church attendance can one hope to glimpse the lofty goals and aspirations of the divine mind. I think this understanding is misguided, and I think President Wilson, though in a different context, approached a better understanding of our God-given purpose. It is real. You can touch it, taste it, and personally experience it in a multitude of creative ways. You find it in day-to-day relationships.

This is what God purposes for us…Relationships.

So, why am I here? (duh, relationships) It seems easy to forget sometimes. Daily tasks and assignments absorb my time. Future plans distract me from the here and now. Laziness creeps in my heart and steals me from the goal. Life gets so busy that I forgot to be where I am until I leave. This is so easy to do in a college that praises hard work and achievement.

Soon though, I’ll be in Belize and away from the tasks, distractions, and business. My hope is that, being free of those things, refreshment will come to my tired eyes, and I’ll again see the people next to me. I’ll give of myself to offer them an ample life instead of hoarding myself to achieve honor and distinction. Instead of being impoverished, I will be nourished by their relationships so that I can go home and live the same way. I’ll touch, taste, and experience God through a people I’ve yet to meet.

May we all get a taste of that.

 -Nathan Miller

As we prepare to depart…

In nine days, our team will be in San Ignacio, Belize. We go with the mission to learn–learn from the teachers at the school, learn from the pastors/churches we visit, and to learn from the children we hope to teach.

Before we leave Missouri, we are preparing lessons. My team is teaching the 10-14 year old children. In the schools, we will be teaching the four types of relationships: me to god, me to creation, me to others, and me to myself.  Through these four types of relationships we will braid stories from the gospel. In addition to teaching and observing classes, our team is going to be building and filling a library for the children of the school.

To further build community with the people of Belize, Dean Bolger and Dr. Haile will lead (along with students who feel called) a pastors’ conference to empower and educate the ministers in the area.

My prayer before we leave:

“Dear Lord,

Thank you for this opportunity to see more of your people and more of what you have created. I pray over this time that we will spend in Belize, and I ask that you would prepare our hearts before we leave. Though we like to think we know more, God, I know you can teach every member of our team and reveal more of yourself to us through the people in Belize and the people we meet on our way there.

Please work how you see fit and use me as a vessel despite how I try to take charge of my own life at times.

I pray as I struggle to understand this culture, that you would protect me from making assumptions. Keep me from arrogance and open my mind, Lord. Help me not to pity these people for things you have given them as blessings, and help me mourn with them for things you mourn for. Let us love well. And keep us safe please. Jesus, your will be done. Amen.”

More than anything, I want to worship the Lord where I am–here in Point Lookout, Missouri as a college student, in Belize as a mission team member and teaching assistant, and even after college as a teacher. As we leave, I want my attitude to show Christ everywhere we go, even in the airport at 3 a.m. in the morning.

Click here to watch a song I have been listening to as I prepare to leave.